MOUNT GILEAD — Superintendent Larry Zimmerman reported at the Oct. 20 school board meeting on the 200 students in the district who are still quarantined due to COVID—19 symptoms or contacts.
Zimmerman said it was a difficult decision to close the school for remote learning for several days. He said that 22 students showed symptoms of the COVID—19 virus. Some of the kids had no symptoms, but parents had them tested. Through contact tracing, it was determined that at least 200 had come in contact with those who had symptoms of the virus.
“I know households are disrupted and we want children in school where learning takes place best,” Zimmerman said. “This is not a school issue, but a community issue.”
Zimmerman added that there is a spread of the virus going on in the community with 64 cases in the county this week and eight in one day. He encourages the community to take the precautions to stay healthy.
The District received $725,000 in grants for COVID-19 expenses.
Board members and Zimmerman praised Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator Emily Ross for her work obtaining five federal and state grants for the district.
Ross said that some grants must be used by the end of 2020 others continue into 2021 and 2022. Because these grants are available for the district, the general fund will not have to pick up the cost of the COVID—19 expenses.
• The Federal ESSER grant of $193,271 is for thermography cameras, remote teaching with some budgeted for the future. It must be spent by 2022.
• The Wellness Grant of $251,376 was received this year with the next half to be paid in February 2021. It is used for school district nurses and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
• Broadband grant $39,381 is used for tech hotspots and is through federal and state funds.
• Title grant for $25,000 is federal and used for teacher stipends.
• CRF is for $63,074 is for increased bus driver costs, TRECA and remote teaching stipends.
Jon Grega works with technology and instruction of teachers in Mount Gilead. He spoke to the board about the changes required in instruction during the pandemic. Teachers have had to respond to teaching both in class and remotely.
Grega said that in-person teaching requirements change with distancing and that even one student with remote learning in a classroom doubles the teacher’s work. He said that forming positive relationships is different and very important during this uncertain environment.
Computer literacy and technology availability are issues for both the home, the student and teacher. Teaching content requires an adjustment with both student packets and remote learning. Working and dealing with hybrid learning for a classroom is a challenge. Technology problems can often take away from valuable teaching time and things can change any day.
In other business:
• The board approved the September financial statement that included a purchase of a new School Bus for $87,949. They also approved the sale of an old school bus.
• The board approved consent items for district leadership team as well as several personnel and supplemental contracts. Full details of the financials and contracts are available at www.mgschools.org.